Disclaimer: Spoilers - I do not own Harry Potter, nor any of the characters from the books or movies. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Chapter 45 – The End (for now)
(FYI - poetic license taken with Harry's birth circumstance)
He watched her lips move as she explained the thing to Professor Hagrid, who listened in rapt attention to her story.
"And, Father actually found one, a Crumple-Horned Snorkack. He wrote that they are much bigger than he thought they would be. He's going to send a picture to me of it soon."
"So, he'll be coming back from Sweden soon then?" Hagrid asked. Luna's father had left on his mission to find the elusive creature as soon as Luna had returned to school and hadn't been home since. He kept in touch with his daughter through regular owls though.
Greg shook his head and pretended to continue to search for the leaves with the correct shade of pink on their edges. The same shade as her lips…stop that, Greg! He sighed heavily to himself. Care of Magical Creatures class had been very interesting for Greg for a change. Actually, his whole morning had been a revelation so far. If he had been asked back in September who his friends were, he would have been hard pressed to come up with a list of five people. Even those five he wouldn't have been sure of, in that they'd always hung together, but never really been close.
But, before and during breakfast, as several people he barely knew expressed their sorrow at his breakup, he realized that he not only had true friends, but also a great number of acquaintances. It was a lot for him to accept and in some ways felt like he has stepped into someone else's life; someone who hadn't bullied half of them for the past six years at the school.
Then, after breakfast on his way to Hagrid's class, he'd been musing on all the changes in his life when Luna Lovegood had stopped him.
"Gregory, did you know a photographic memory is a preeminent sign of great wandless skills?"
He'd been startled by her sudden appearance at his side, and even more so by her words and the use of his full name, "Huh?"
He jerked a bit when her soft hand fell on his arm to stop him from continuing down the hall. When he turned his head she was gazing up at him thoughtfully, but it didn't even occur to him to wonder at what she was thinking about, as her light, clear eyes held his gaze.
"My, you have large muscles. Hmmm. Wandless magic is very much about being able to compartmentalize things in your mind. Having the ability to read something once and put it away for later is just that."
He found himself glancing between her captivating eyes and her moving pink lips and realized he'd been holding his breath. He gulped in much needed air and nodded stupidly as he wondered what, if anything, he was supposed to say to either part of her short speech. It didn't help that she still had her hand on his arm.
Luna smiled up at him and said, "A couple of us were discussing your ability and potential last night in our common room and thought you might like a tutor of sorts."
"My grades are fine. I'm not stupid!" he'd snapped with a bit more bite than he'd intended. He was tired of people thinking him stupid. And, he thought she would remember that, as she was the one he'd confessed his secret to in Charms class the prior day. I want to find love and have someone treat me like a normal person, not an ex-deatheater or a big lump of stupid.
Her soft smile never wavered even though her eyes widened a little. "To be stupid is to be lacking in the ordinary keenness of the mind, Gregory. I believe we have already established that is not true in your case."
He felt a slight tremor run through him at the way she almost purred his name, but stamped it down and asked, "Why do I need a tutor then?"
She slid her hand down his arm and then away as she once again resumed her walk to class. He instinctively fell in step beside her and waited for her answer.
"Do you think it possible they took my ball shoes? They were so very pretty. I hope I get them back. I know they are rather small, but if three or four tried together, they could carry them away?"
Greg once again found himself at a loss, "Wha…huh?"
"Nargles," she answered as it was most obvious.
Greg shook his head a bit as he reached out to open the large front doors so they could make their way down the hill to class, "What about them?"
Luna skipped lightly past him through the door, "Thank you. Well, it is almost Yule time and they're out and breeding. Maybe they took my shoes to help build a nest or something."
"As it's just the beginning of November, Luna, I think it's safe to say someone in your dorms may have, erm, borrowed them. I'm sure they'll show up." Then he seemed to remember their initial conversation and wanted an answer before they got to class. "Why do you think I need a tutor?"
She sighed and looked up at the clear morning sky above them, "Perhaps you're right. They would be very small right now. We thought I could teach you a few of our games. They might help stretch your mind a bit more so you can reach your full potential."
He didn't think as he reached for her arm and pulled her to a stop, "You want to help me be able to do wandless magic?"
"You're as strong as you look, but very gentle," she murmured appreciatively, even though her eyes never stopped their scan of the sky above them. "No one reaches the pinnacle of success without assistance, Gregory."
He felt his own eyes widen at her words and the slight purr of his name once again. He couldn't think of a thing to say to her and he didn't think to let go of her arm. He never even realized he'd moved closer to her side.
Her light blue eyes once again met his as she smiled a secretive smile, "Think on my offer. I think together, we might bring you to heights you've never before reached."
She gently pulled her arm from his grasp as she looked at his large hand and murmured to herself, "So strong." Then she stepped away and over her shoulder said softly, "We mustn't be late for class."
He didn't know how much time had passed as he stood still in the same spot, mentally going through their short conversation again and again. He kept losing his train of thought though, as he saw her lips moving in his mind's eye as she repeated the words "together, we might bring you to heights you've never before reached. "
Laughter and the clap of a hand on his back brought him back to the present.
"Forget how to get to class?" Harry laughed.
Hermione, Ron and Ginny laughed with him, but not unkindly and he fell in step with them.
"No, I was, uh," he trailed off.
"Are you okay?" Ginny asked as he appeared to be at a loss. "Thinking about Millie again?"
He started at the question, "What? No! I'm fine. It's just Luna said we…that I should…I mean that she would…"
He didn't see the looks pass amongst his friends as he trailed off again, his eyes scanning the growing class and stopping when they reached the girl he'd mentioned.
Hermione and Ginny smiled at one another behind his back, and Harry and Ron raised their eyebrows at him. But, none of them said a word as they had reached the rest of the students.
Hagrid, Ground's Keep turned Care of Magical Creatures professor, then greeted everyone loudly and gave them their assignment for the day, which effectively stopped all conversation. The class immediately set to work on finding the leaves with the correct colors, but it didn't keep the friends from glancing between the sprite of a witch and the hulk of a wizard in speculation.
Greg tried to ignore their looks and act as if nothing was different, but he couldn't stop himself from seeking out Luna's form as she moved ahead of him at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. And, when she'd stopped to talk to the professor about her father's findings, he'd involuntarily stopped, too, so as to not move too far away from her. Although he heard her words, it was her lips that had him enthralled.
When she turned her head and their eyes met across the short distance, she smiled and he felt himself redden as he returned her smile with his own grin. Then, he hurriedly moved further down the path away from her so he could regain control of his senses.
Later that day, Harry moved down the empty hall and headed to his favorite thinking place. For many years he'd gone to that spot that overlooked the grounds at the end of the castle and sat on the edge of the wall as he'd sorted through his most vexing problems. This day was no different. But, the problem was absolutely the most personal one he'd ever faced.
Ginny was pregnant.
When she'd told him the night before, after he'd confronted her on seeming off and distant, he'd gone straight into shock.
"Preg…what? How? When?"
"Harry!" she'd cried in exasperation.
"Apparently, it's not only the boys in the family," she'd said faintly as she'd looked away from him and wrapped her arms around herself protectively.
Harry dropped his head in his hands and closed his eyes as he remembered for the thousandth time the look on her face when he'd sputtered, "What are you going to do?"
He'd known even as the words had crossed his lips that they were going to sound and be wrong, but he hadn't been able to form any other thought.
"Mom, Dad? What do I do now?" he whispered into the air. "I love her. I know she's the one, but it's all too soon."
He stopped and listened to the wind, hoping against hope that another miracle would happen and they would answer his inquiry. He waited a long moment as he thought back on the times in his life when they had shown up, in one way or another, right when he needed them most. If he listened hard enough he could almost hear his father's gruff voice calling his name.
He jerked and almost fell off the wall at the voice so near his ear and the hand on his arm. But, when he turned his head sharply, his eyes met those of Remus Lupin.
"Are you okay?" Remus asked. "I called your name twice before you heard me."
"Sorry, I…sorry," Harry sighed in a bit of disappointment. "I was just thinking about my parents."
Remus moved to stand beside Harry and look down over the grounds in silence. Harry was struck by the similarity between that moment and the one back in 3rd year. Taking a deep breath, Harry squeezed his hands together and once again contemplated unloading his worries on his mentor and friend.
Before he could decide, Remus spoke quietly, "So, Harry. Another Weasley on the way, eh?"
Harry gaped, then sputtered, "How'd you… Did she…" He stopped abruptly when Remus' eyes met his and the older man shook his head a little.
"I came upon her talking to Hermione before class yesterday. She seemed upset and I started over to them to see if I could help."
Harry waited as the professor stopped and seemed to struggle with his next words. Remus turned his head away and closed his eyes for a moment as he breathed slowly. Then he turned back to Harry.
"I heard its heartbeat," he finally confessed on a harsh whisper.
Harry blinked for a minute before understanding dawned and he wondered briefly which of them was more embarrassed. He didn't know if his own shame at allowing it to happen outweighed Remus' at admitting to his werewolf half's intrusion.
"Oh," Harry finally breathed as he looked away from the older man. After what seemed a very long time to both, Harry asked quietly, "Are you very upset with me?"
Remus didn't answer immediately as he turned to look at the boy-turned-man who was identical in looks to his father, Remus' dearest and most missed friend. The thought of Harry's father brought a small smile to his face and he remembered a long ago conversation very similar in topic.
"Do you love her?" he asked very seriously.
"Yes," Harry answered without hesitation.
Remus nodded approvingly and continued, "And, do you see yourselves sharing a life? Having a family?"
"Yes, with everything in me. I want to be as good a father as…as you are to Teddy," Harry answered honestly, quickly and with absolute certainty. But, then his voice dropped in apprehension, "But, not yet. It's too soon. We haven't even really talked about marriage, not really. And, we're still in school. We both thought after school we'd travel a bit and…"
Remus interrupted softly, "Harry, have you ever thought about your birth date?"
Harry looked at him and shook his head, his face a mix of fright and question. "Huh? What do you mean?"
Remus smiled encouragingly as he said, "Did it never occur to you that your birthday is in July when we had only graduated in May of that same year? That their wedding date preceded their graduation date by quite a few months?"
"No. I…" Harry trailed off as realization assailed him. "Mum was…with me?!"
Remus nodded as he smiled and looked out over the grounds once more in memory. "As I recall, your father didn't take the news very well at all at first." He laughed a little to himself as he continued, "Ticked Lily off quite a bit, I tell you. He said something along the lines of what she was going to do about it and she didn't talk to him again for weeks."
When he turned his head to Harry's the smile dropped from his face at the guilt Remus saw on the younger man's face. "Oh, Harry. What did you say to her?"
"Seems I take after my father once again," Harry tried to joke sadly. Then he sighed heavily and slid down the wall until he sat on the floor. "What do I do now? What can I say to fix this, Remus?"
Remus put his hand on Harry's head in a gesture of support as he answered, "I will tell you what I told James when he asked the same thing, Harry. She loves you and only wants to know you feel the same and will do right by her. She needs to hear that you won't leave her alone in this; that you will take responsibility for what you have both done." Then he squatted in front of Harry and waited until the younger man lifted miserably scared and sad eyes to his own before he finished. "You need to talk to her and decide together what is best for you and your shared future."
"Do you ever think about the future?" Draco asked softly above her head as he stared up at the multitude of stars above them.
They stood on the parapets of the Astronomy tower with his arms around her and his cloak keeping them both warm. She had come up to meet him after class and snuck in when the class had ended. It was against the rules to be up there without a professor present, but their desire to spend some time alone under the stars, along with the risk of being caught, had been enough to make them try it.
She nodded her head against him and answered with a laugh in her voice, "You know I do. Why do you ask?"
She felt him shrug as he said, "Just thinking out loud, I guess."
Hermione lifted her head from him and looked up into his pensive face, "Draco, talk to me."
She watched as he seemed to think on what he would say. Then he lowered his head and looked at her briefly before tightening his hold on her and looking back to the night sky.
"There are a couple of things I know for sure," he began quietly. "I know I want to work in Potions with Severus as my mentor. I know I want to spend time getting to really know my mother and the rest of my family. I know I don't want to be like my…that I want to live my life my way. I know that I love you and want to be with you. I know that I want to see your face in the moonlight from the tops of those buildings Professor Mills talked about in class, the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building."
When he stopped talking, but continued to play with one her curls distractedly, she questioned softly, "But?"
He looked down in surprise, almost as if he'd forgotten she was there, "But, what?"
"You know all those things, but…"
Once again he shrugged and looked away from her. Just when she thought he wouldn't answer, he took a deep breath and whispered on a choked breath, "I know I'm scared."
Of all the things to come out of his mouth in all the years they'd known one another, that was positively the last thing she would have ever expected to hear. With great effort, she kept her chin from dropping and willed her face to not look as shocked as she felt. She also swallowed back the smile that threatened to bloom as she realized he trusted her enough to admit such a thing to her.
Putting one hand over his heart and the other in his, she asked quietly, but supportively, "Of what, luv?"
"Of…" he paused and closed his eyes as he lowered his head and rested his forehead against hers. "Of losing everything again. Of things going back the way they were. Of losing you. Of fa…failing again. I don't know what to do to make sure that I…"
Hermione watched the tormented and ashamed face of the man she loved and her heart broke a bit for him. She slowly let go of his hand and reached up to rest her palm against his cheek as she stopped him.
"Draco, look at me," she whispered. When he did, she saw real fear in his eyes and wanted to cry for him. She said the first thing that came to mind, "Won't happen."
He looked away, "But, Hermione, what if…"
"Won't happen," she repeated with absolute conviction as she forced him to look at her once again.
He took a deep breath and nodded, even though she could tell he was far from convinced. She stepped back from him and took his hands in hers, "Draco, it was once said that the greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you'll make one. If you want to be active, you can't be afraid of going wrong. You can't be afraid of making mistakes now and then. Loads of people believe you become good just by doing no harm, but I don't think that's true. To be good is to want to be so; to try and do good; to try to be better each day. It's acting without hate in your heart, but with the best of intentions. But, Draco, to do nothing for fear of failing is the way to stagnation, mediocrity. And you, my love, are anything but mediocre."
He smiled a bit at her endearment and seemed to mull over her words before he nodded a bit. Then he looked down at her sadly as he asked, "When I think back on how I…"
"No," she shook her head and stepped forward to put her fingers over his lips. "No more of the past. From tonight on, we focus on what's coming, not what's been. The past can't be changed by our regrets, but the future can be shaped with our wants and wishes."
He smirked at her and asked, "Very philosophical. Who said that?"
Hermione grinned a bit, "Luna when Greg apologized to her yesterday for how he used to treat her."
He laughed and pulled her close again when she shivered from the night air. They stood quietly again each lost in thought.
A few minutes later, he leaned down and placed a kiss on the top of her head. Then he said softly, "Thank you.'
In response, she tightened her arms around him and asked, "For what?"
"For loving me," he answered. Then he pulled back and lifted her chin, so she looked him in the eye when he added, "For liking me."
She smiled, but could think of nothing to say. Instead, she went up on her toes and placed a light kiss on his lips. When she pulled back she still saw worry lurking in his eyes. "You are going to be just fine, I promise you. I think your future is very bright and I look forward to seeing your many upcoming successes."
He smiled at her and moved a wayward curl off her cheek, "I love you, Hermione."
"And, I love you. You make me very happy, Mr. Malfoy."
He sighed happily, more at peace because he knew she believed in him. He leaned down and placed a slow, tender kiss on her soft lips, before he pulled back to look at her upturned face. "You have no idea how happy you make me, too, luv. I just hope to keep making you happy for a long time to come."
She smiled and snuggled back against his chest with a contented moan, "I think you will."
"I'll sure try," he said as he looked up and watched a falling star streak across the sky. He knew she'd seen it too, by the catch in her breath.
"Make a wish," she whispered.
It was her turn to shrug as she looked up at him and answered, "It's a silly muggle thing I guess, but if you wish on a falling star, your wish is supposed to come true."
He smiled at her and answered softly "I wish for us to be five times happier five years from now than we are tonight."
She giggled softly against his chest, "You're not supposed to tell your wish. It jinxes it."
He tilted her head up and leaned down until their lips were a breath apart. When their eyes met he smirked and repeated her earlier words, "Won't happen." Then he closed the distance.
End of this story... Coming soon – Struggling Through Five Years Later
Quotes used in part in this chapter:
If one wants to be active, one must not be afraid of going wrong, one must not be afraid of making mistakes now and then. Many people think that they will become good just by doing no harm -- but that's a lie.... That way lies stagnation, mediocrity. - Vincent Van Gogh, letter to Theo van Gogh, Oct. 1884
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. - Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)
When you make a mistake, don't look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power. - Hugh White (1773 - 1840)
Author's Responses: I wrote this story for myself for two reasons. First, I wanted to prove to myself that Pansy could be written as something other than a simpering idiot or a sadistic, vindictive evil girl. That is not an insult to anyone who has written her that way, as I enjoy those stories very much, but I wanted to see if I could do it. Then, I wanted to give Gregory Goyle a new personality. Maybe it's because the boy who plays him in the movies is such a cutie, but I wanted to be able to see him differently for a while. Thanks to all of you, I have done that and I am proud of myself and thrilled with your reactions. Thank you all so very much for every word of praise, criticism, encouragement and love you have given me and this story. I am already writing Struggling Through Five Years Later and having fun with it. I hope to have enough written to post it in under a month. Wish me luck. Thanks to many of you, I have a lot of really great ideas for it. Hugs to every one of you who have read, enjoyed, and/or commented on this story.
Rebecca: Thank you once more, hon, for everything you said.